To accommodate the WBT Angler of the Year, BASS will extend 51 invitations to the Classic.
Also announced today was the schedule for the 2008 WBT season, which includes stops in Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas, and a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Academy Sports + Outdoors.
“Next year promises to be a historic year, with the first female angler qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic,” said Tom Ricks, vice president and general manager of BASS. “The WBT continues to receive some well-deserved attention and we are excited about this opportunity for the circuit to grow.”
With the sponsorship agreement, the final day weigh-ins of WBT events will be held at Academy store locations near the fishery. The Katy, Texas, based company will be the exclusive WBT sporting goods retailer and will receive significant placement in all BASS multi-media properties, including ESPN2 Outdoors programming and Bassmaster Magazine.
“Academy Sports + Outdoors is pleased to sponsor the 2008 Women’s Bassmaster Tour,” said Jerry deBin, Academy’s director of outdoor marketing. “With 100 stores in 11 Southern states and growing, Academy is ideally positioned to support the WBT throughout the South, where bass fishing is a way of life. Academy already supports female athletes in our core business, and sponsoring the WBT is just one more way to show it.
“Academy Sports + Outdoors and BASS make a good team, and we look forward to a great year.”
In 2008, the WBT circuit will include five tournaments. The fifth and final event will feature a limited field and will be billed as a championship, stand-alone event. From the decreased field – only the top 20 pros and co-anglers in the AOY standings will qualify -- the Toyota WBT Angler of the Year will emerge.
Entry fees will be collected for all five events. Enhanced tournament payouts and rules can be found at www.Bassmaster.com.
At each event, the champion pro will receive $1,000 in addition to a fully-rigged boat package valued at $50,000. The winning co-angler will receive $500 plus a boat package valued at $25,000.
WBT anglers will kick off the season April 10-12 at a familiar site: Texas’ Lewisville Lake. Lewisville was the site of the inaugural WBT event in October 2005, won by Pam Martin-Wells, and also hosted a 2006 WBT event won by Dianna Clark, the 2006 Toyota WBT Angler of the Year.
For the second event, the circuit will visit the state where BASS was created. Another repeat stop for the WBT anglers, Lake Neely Henry and Gadsden, Ala., served as site for a 2006 WBT event, won by Tammy Richardson of Amity, Ark. BASS has hosted five events at the Alabama fishery.
WBT anglers will hit the mid-season point when they travel June 19-21 to Old Hickory Lake and Gallatin, Tenn. BASS has visited Old Hickory eight times, but never for a WBT tournament. Dianna Clark hails from Bumpus Mills, Tenn., about two hours from Old Hickory.
For the fourth and final regular-season event, Sept. 18-20, the series moves to Clarks Hill Lake, a perennial BASS favorite, and Evans, Ga. While the WBT has yet to hold an event at the spacious reservoir, the Bassmaster Elite Series has hosted two events in the area.
The championship event, the fifth and final tournament of the season, is scheduled for Lake Hamilton and Hot Springs, Ark. The first stand-alone championship in WBT history will determine the 2008 WBT Angler of the Year, who will qualify as the first female angler in the Bassmaster Classic. In addition, the AOY recipient will take home a Toyota Tundra.
Registration for the four regular-season events can be completed at www.Bassmaster.com. Priority registration is open to the top 35 pros and co-anglers in the 2007 Toyota WBT Angler of the Year standings beginning at noon ET Thursday, Nov. 20.
Registration will open at noon Tuesday, Dec. 4, for all BASS members who wish to sign up for all four regular-season events. Those who wish to sign up for single events can register beginning at noon Tuesday, Dec. 18.
For entry fee information and other Women’s Bassmaster Tour information, visit www.Bassmaster.com.
Sponsors of the Women’s Bassmaster Tour include Academy Sports + Outdoors, Toyota Tundra, Mercury Marine, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Mustang Survival.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.Bassmaster.com. Visit www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.
ABOUT BASS: BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS sanctions and stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
ABOUT ACADEMY SPORTS & OUTDOORS: Academy Sports + Outdoors is one of the nation’s largest and oldest sporting goods retailers, with 100 stores in 11 states and growing. Founded in 1938 in San Antonio, Texas, the company is now headquartered in Katy, Texas. Academy Sports + Outdoors is a leader in the sporting goods industry, offering the broadest selection of sporting equipment, apparel and footwear at everyday low prices. For more information, visit www.academy.com.